DEVILS (26-21-4) vs. PREDATORS (27-23-3)
This will be the first meeting between the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators this season and will mark the first time the Devils face their former associate coach Andrew Brunette. Brunette was hired as head coach of the Predators this past off-season. The final game of the two-game set between the teams will be on April 7 at Prudential Center.
Last season the Predators had the best of the Devils, winning both games. The first Predators victory was on Dec. 1, 2022, when Ryan Johanson scored 33 seconds into overtime, handing the Devils just their second loss in 18 games. Nashville beat New Jersey again on Jan. 25, 2023 in a 7-4 final.
Devils Team Scope:
The Devils are coming off of a full team effort against the Seattle Kraken, in the first half of a back-to-back to start the week. Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist, Tyler Toffoli broke the power play slump and Dawson Mercer recorded his 15th goal of the season in the 3-1 win.
New Jersey is without goaltender Vitek Vanecek, who was sick and also dealing with a lower-body injury. Nico Daws picked up the victory against Seattle and Akira Schmid returned from the AHL to backup Daws in the Devils net. It is not yet clear whether Vanecek will be able to play in the second half of the back-to-back in Nashville.
The injury list does keep narrowing and could very well be one player shorter on Tuesday. Defenseman Brendan Smith joined the team for morning skate on Monday and head coach Lindy Ruff indicated there is a possibility he will be able to return to the lineup in Nashville.
Predators Team Scope:
The Predators are very much in a Wild Card race in the Western Conference, currently two points behind the L.A. Kings and St. Louis Blues who hold the WC 1 and 2 spot respectively, both with 58 points.
Nashville is currently on a 7-3-0 stretch and winner of their last two games.
Filip Forsberg leads Nashville with 53 points and has the team lead in goals as well, with 25. Defenseman Roman Josi is second in points and leads all Predators with 36 assists. Ryan O’Reilly, who signed as a free agent this summer has 11 power-play goals, five more than Josi as the top two power play goal scorers.
On Monday the club recalled forwards Egor Afanasyev and Mark Jankowski from Milwaukee of the AHL.
By the Numbers:
- The Devils broke their power play slump when Tyler Toffoli scored a man-advantage goal at 13:36 of the first period against Seattle. Before Toffoli’s goal, the power play had gone 0-for-23 over nine games.
- Curtis Lazar will be playing in his 500th NHL game. Lazar, who joined the Devils last season via trade with Vancouver, made his NHL debut during the 2014-15 season with the Ottawa Senators. A bit of a journeyman, Lazar has also played with the Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins.
Smith – sprained knee, day-to-day
Siegenthaler – broken foot, IR
Vanecek – lower-body/illness
Hamilton – torn pectoral, LTIR